If you’re happy in your current work environment but feel like your responsibilities are starting to become second-nature, it may be time to consider a promotion. But going about asking for one is rarely easy. The promotion talk is a sensitive one and, if the employee starting it isn’t prepared, can actually harm rather than help. If you’re looking to move up from your current role, you have to make sure you’re prepared before asking.
So if you’re serious about stepping up in your current position, start planting the proverbial seeds early on. Believe it or not, the conversation isn’t where the steps to a new promotion begin.
Here are some steps to take before and during the promotion talk to ensure you have the best chances of success:
Before the talk
- Know what a promotion would entail. Sure, it might mean more money, but are you prepared to handle the additional responsibilities? Prepare yourself by knowing exactly what will be expected of you in the new position if you are to succeed in obtaining a promotion.
- Start taking on those responsibilities. Offer your help and pick up extra, relevant work where possible. This will show your boss ahead of time that you’re capable of handling the position and that you’re eager to advance. Of course, be sure to prioritize your current responsibilities and take care of them first.
- Take responsibility for your actions. Everyone makes mistakes, and if you’ve had a history of avoiding them in the past, it’s time to start owning up to them. With a promotion comes greater responsibility, and an employer wants to know that they’re putting an accountable person in the position.
- Determine an appropriate time. Is your company currently struggling? Is it smack in the middle of a busy season? Be sure to consider such things when planning to ask for a promotion, as they will likely have a major effect on whether or not you’re successful. In addition, an observant supervisor may take note of your consideration when you pick a non-stressful time to ask.
- Plan your meeting. Possibly the worst thing you can do is ambush your boss in the hallway; instead, ask if there’s some time you can set aside to meet one-on-one and discuss your future with the company. Schedule a block of time at your supervisor’s convenience and make sure your pitch fits into it and leaves plenty of room for discussion.
During the talk
- Present yourself as you would an idea, pitch, or sale. Promotions aren’t given based solely on tenure, so give your boss reasons as to why you’d excel in a more demanding capacity. Offer an example of a big project you spearheaded or praise you’ve received and how the skills you learned from such experiences can help you in the new role.
- Pitch it in a way that shows you both gain. There are obvious reasons you want the promotion—increased pay and benefits, added responsibility, mobility within the company—but why should your employer want to promote you? Be sure to identify three key ways your promotion will help the company in both its short- and long-term goals. This will demonstrate that you’re the right fit for the job—which is always more effective than merely saying you are.
- Be realistic. Asking to move from a staff position to that of a VP not only won’t work, it will also alert your employer to the fact that you don’t understand how businesses work. And that’s not a quality of a promotable employee.
- Avoid comparisons. Focus on you and your accomplishments—not your coworkers and theirs. Comparing yourself to others will only highlight any lack of support you have for wanting a promotion. If you truly want and deserve it, you’ll find ways to sell yourself without having to use others as a reference.
- Have a plan for the immediate future. Tell your supervisor exactly what you hope to accomplish if you’re given the promotion. Doing so will make you appear prepared—and you will be! If you’re successful, you’ll already know what to begin with so you can get the ball rolling and show you were the right pick.